Six Year Blogiversary

I can hardly believe that it’s been six years since my very first post. (I debated for a LONG time whether I should link that, since, well, the photos are a bit cringe-worthy.) It’s been a really amazing experience – I’ve learned so much, eaten so many delicious meals, and, most importantly, met so many wonderful people through the blog. Even though S and I love the perks that come with the blog, the friends that we’ve made (both online and in real life) are definitely the most rewarding part of it all.

Thank you all for your readership, comments, and support. It’s really humbling to know that you guys value my opinions, and I’m motivated everyday to continue improving my cooking, writing, and photography. Here’s to another year of blogging! <3

You can read my previous blogiversary post here: Five Years Blogiversary.

A Weekend in North Carolina!

Hey everyone! This week I’m in Durham, North Carolina for my college reunion, so there won’t be much of an update on the blog. Here’s a quick preview of everything we’ve eaten already, though:

We started out with burgers for breakfast (well, technically it was like 3AM Pacific Time, so I’m not sure what kind of meal that is. But it was 6 already on the East Coast). Did you know that Five Guys serves breakfast? I had a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich.

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We then proceeded to have fried chicken for lunch:

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We’ve missed fried chicken so much! Recently we’ve discovered some good places around town, like Streetcar Merchants or Crispy Fried Chicken, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing like Bojangle’s (and I know my North Carolinian friends will agree with me!).

And of course, there’s the BBQ!

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2014 Recap

What a year it has been! I’ve been thinking about this recap post for quite some time, and to be honest, I’m not sure how to quite capture it all in one manageable blog entry. 

S and I started 2014 in Taiwan – we were in the beautiful city of Kenting, the southern-most tip of the island. Here was the first sunset of 2014:

Sunset in Taiwan 

I wrote a series of posts about this Taiwan trip – check them out here: parts one, two, three, four, and five.

After returning to San Diego, we had one of the best meals of our year, at George’s California Modern. My favorite dish from that meal was actually a salad, with chanterelle mushrooms and a perfectly-cooked soft egg:

George's California Modern 

Earlier this year, S and I were ecstatic to discover that one of our favorite sandwich chains, Firehouse Subs, has come to the West Coast! Firehouse was basically one of our college staples, and we really love this restaurant’s dedication to high quality ingredients, as well as the Southern flair in their flavor profiles. We were so excited to meet one of the founders of the restaurant, Robin, and we’ve been regular customers at Firehouse for the past year!

Firehouse Subs 

Firehouse Subs 

Speaking of sandwiches, Supernatural Sandwiches opened up a shop on Miramar Road – it’s also quickly become one of our favorites!

Supernatural Sandwiches

Throughout the year, we’ve also made several trips up to LA/Orange County. Just a few of the yummy things that we ate there included…

…this yummy marinated beef sandwich at Four Sea Restaurant in Irvine…

Four Sea Restaurant 

…the famous Iced Milk Drink at Half & Half Tea House

Half & Half Tea House 

…and this delicious bowl featuring four types of uni from Maruhide Uni Club.

Maruhide Uni Club 

Our big trip this year was to Chicago, which quickly became one of my favorite cities (yes, I’ve only been there in the summer). I had so many amazing meals there, but the highlight was definitely Topolobampo, by Rick Bayless. S and I still reminisce about that mole negro:

Topolobampo 

You can read about my Chicago trip recaps here: part one, two, three, four. I’m still not done posting, by the way! 

Over the summer, a snow-shaved ice pop-up shop called Iceskimo opened up on Convoy St, and we became frequent customers!

Iceskimo 

They now have a brick-and-mortar shop, which I actually haven’t had a chance to visit yet (I blame it on the cold weather). Hopefully it will warm up soon enough for me to crave some ice!

One recurring theme on this blog is S and my love for Korean BBQ. This year, we decided to venture out of the all-you-can-eat realm a little bit and checked out a couple of non-AYCE KBBQ places around town.

First up, Dae Jang Keum, which actually uses a charcoal grill instead of gas. I loved that you can order an entire ribeye steak!

Dae Jang Keum 

We also paid a few visits to Buga Korean BBQ, which had the best brisket in my opinion, out of all the KBBQ places that I’ve visited so far.

Buga Korean BBQ 

We also checked out Gyu-Kaku, which is a Japanese BBQ place, for my birthday!

Gyu-Kaku  

We also had a few fancy meals in addition to our Restaurant Week outings, which included an anniversary celebration at Juniper & Ivy:

Juniper & Ivy 

And also a spur-of-the-moment, super fun date night at Table No. 10!

Table No. 10 

In addition to dining out, I also tried to expand my cooking and baking repertoire this year. Looking through my posts, I realized that lemon was featured in several recipes. My favorite was this Meyer lemon cream cheese coffee cake that I made as part of a campaign for Alex’s Lemonade Stand:

Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake 

I also finally got a mini donut pan! The first thing that I made with them were these mini cinnamon sugar donuts:

Mini Cinnamon Sugar Donuts 

I also finally acquired some high quality matcha powder and made these cute little matcha shortbread cookies

Matcha Shortbread Cookies 

In addition to baking sweets, I also shared a few simple dinner recipes, including a round-up of some of my favorite slow-cooker dinners:

Braised pork belly with takenoko 

Another simple recipe that I shared was spaghetti with meat sauce – my personal version of it.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce 

And, I’m also quite proud of the Valentine’s Day dinner that I put together for S and me!

Valentine's Day Dinner 

You know we’re carnivores… so of course I was particularly happy with the steak that I made. 

There are so, so many more moments that I wanted to include in this round-up, but I think I’ll end with one of my year’s highlights, the South Bay Food Crawl hosted by CC of Pink Candles at Ridgemont High!

South Bay Food Crawl 

South Bay Food Crawl

S and I loved getting to know a little more about this city which we now called ‘home’. The food and culture in the South Bay is often overlooked when thinking about San Diego, but we truly loved how simple yet rich and vibrant it is! We are definitely planning to do another food crawl there soon.

Imperial Beach Pier 

So with that, I will leave you with the best wishes for the new year! May your 2015 be filled with happiness, success, and of course, lots of good eats!

 

Alex’s Lemonade Stand & [Recipe] Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Today’s post is a little more than a recipe – I am partnering with my blogger buddies in a San Diego Food Bloggers Lemonade Challenge, in support of a wonderful cause – Alex’s Lemonade Stand.

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Alex’s Lemonade Stand is a fundraiser for childhood cancer, and is the biggest fundraiser in California! Since its inception 9 years ago, Alex’s Lemonade Stand has raised over $80 million and funded more than 450 research projects at 94 institutions! They also help families struggling with childhood cancer by providing a Travel Fund and an annual Educational Symposium.

The 9th annual Alex’s Lemonade Stand will be held this Saturday, July 26 from 10AM-6PM in Normal Heights: 3366 Adams Avenue, 92116 at the Masonic Parking Lot. There will be lemonade, a silent auction, prize drawings, kids’ activities, and live music – it is bound to be a super fun event, supporting an amazing fundraiser.

Alex's Lemonade Stand, 2013

Alex’s Lemonade Stand, 2013

Even if you can’t attend, you can donate online here. A $50 donation funds an hour of research – the biomedical research funding climate is not so great right now (I can personally attest to this, as a grad student in this field), and every little bit will help! Let’s help our hosts, the Miller Tribe, reach their goal of $15,000 this year – which would bring their total to $100,000 for the nine years that they’ve been running!

This week, I join my fellow food bloggers in creating a lemon-based recipe, sponsored by Melissa’s Produce. More than a dozen bloggers will be cooking with lemons in support of Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Be sure to check out the recipes on their blogs!

A Purpose Driven Wife
BakeLoveGive
Becky Charms
Confessions of a Foodie
Deleting the Adjectives
Family Spice
Frugal Nutrition
Golden State Mom
Jinxi Eats
Kirbie’s Cravings
Making It Sweet
Recipe Renovator
Sweet Sueshine
The H Blog
This Tasty Life
The Seaside Baker
Three Dog Kitchen

Melissa’s Produce generously provided both regular and Meyer lemons (as well as a bunch of other amazing fruits!) for me to create my recipe. I remembered something that I had seen on Pinterest, a Greek yogurt lemon coffee cake, and decided to make a Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake.

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It’s basically a coffee cake, but with a layer of lemon cream cheese in between the cake and crumble part.

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I really enjoyed the textural contrast between the crumble topping and custard-like cream cheese layer! The Meyer lemons gave it a wonderfully sweet yet bright flavor – it was my first time baking with Meyer lemon, and now I’m addicted. I’m already planning to make a batch of Meyer lemon curd this weekend!

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S loved the cake, too, and was quite reluctant when I said I wanted to share some with our friends… haha. That’s when I knew that I made something yummy!

Thanks so much, once again, to Melissa’s Produce for providing the lemons for this post, as well as the produce box! Be sure to check out my fellow bloggers’ lemon recipes in the links above! And finally, I hope you’ll support Alex’s Lemonade Stand, whether by attending the event or making an online donation. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Melissa’s Produce to benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand: Foundation for Childhood Cancer.

Event Partners:
Alex’s Lemonade Stand
Adams Avenue Business Association
Blind Lady Ale House
FM 94.9, broadcasting live all day
Melissa’s Produce

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Five Years Blogiversary!

Five years ago, I started this little blog to document all the restaurants that I was trying out in the summer before my last year of college. Since then, I’ve moved from Durham, NC to Berkeley, CA and now San Diego. I’ve moved up from using the camera on my Sony Ericsson non-smartphone to a real camera with interchangeable lenses. I’ve experienced all sorts of new cuisines, tried all sorts of new recipes (with a lot of failures, haha), and learned a lot about different cultures. Through it all, though, I’ve tried hard to stay true to the original “intention” of this blog, which is simply to write about the food that I’ve eaten and meals that I’ve enjoyed.

I realized that I’ve never done a blogiversary post, but I really wanted to write this one because, well, five years is a milestone of some sorts, right? Plus, I’ve been really sick and haven’t gotten around to uploading all my photos from recent food outings. Oops…

Anyway, for this post, I wanted to do a round-up of some of my favorite posts/meals from the past five years – it was hard to pick just one for each year, but here goes:

Year 1 – Contest & Tiramisu

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I did quite a bit of baking in college, even though I had limited space and equipment. It was a great way to procrastinate, and living on campus made giving away all the goodies really convenient! In my senior year, there was a baking contest on campus, and I chose to make tiramisu. It was a challenge, and I didn’t win the contest, but the tiramisu was one of the first desserts to run out, so I do take some pride in that, hehe. Tiramisu also holds a special place in my heart because it was the first dessert that S and I made together (this was before we started dating). We didn’t know much about baking back then, and we didn’t even know how to make heavy whipping cream into whipped cream, but every time I have tiramisu, I remember how much fun that experience was, and how we gobbled up the tiramisu even though it probably wasn’t all that great.

Year 2 – Tacos el Gordo in Chula Vista

Tacos el Gordo was one of the places that I insisted on having every time I came to visit S in San Diego (this was still during our long-distance, Berkeley-San Diego days). I instantly fell in love with the tacos here, and now that I’ve moved to San Diego, I actually haven’t gone as often. I remember that this was one of the things I looked forward to the most every visit (other than seeing S, of course!), and even now, Tacos el Gordo remains one of my favorite restaurants here.

Year 3 – The Brick Pig’s House

After moving to California, S and I craved for good old Southern food, in particular, barbecue. After trying out various places around Berkeley, we finally found a good place – The Brick Pig’s House, in Oakland. The place was tiny, but the food was spectacular, and the owners made us feel right at home with their Southern hospitality. I loved their cornbread, and of course their brisket and ribs, too. After discovering this place, S and I would always go when he was in Berkeley to visit me! I still miss this place sometimes, even though we’ve found really good Texas BBQ at Coop’s in Lemon Grove.

Year 4 – White Chocolate M&M Cookies (and SDFB Bake Sale round-up)

There are some nice perks to having a blog, but nothing beats the friendships that I’ve made through it. Since moving to San Diego, I’ve connected with many other bloggers here, and it has been amazing. I’ve received so much kindness and generosity and knowledge from them, and I’m so grateful to these awesome blogger buddies! The San Diego Food Bloggers’ Bake Sale was one of the events that I participated in, as part of a fundraiser for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry charity. It was a lot of fun to sell my cookies alongside other bloggers, getting to know them, and buying goodies from each other. 

Year 5 – Sushi Tadokoro

Oh yes, you knew this one was coming. My birthday meal at Sushi Tadokoro last year was the best meal of my life so far, and it really was an eye-opener in terms of sushi. I’m really thankful to Chef Soichi at Tadokoro, for preparing this amazing omakase meal for S and me, and of course, to S, for being my willing companion on this, and all of our other food adventures. 

Whew, that list actually took way longer to come up with than I had originally anticipated. Thanks to all of you for reading my little blog! <3

Posting Schedule

Hi everyone! For the next 10 days or so, the posting schedule will be a bit… off. I will be in China for some family matters, and you may be familiar with the Great Firewall. Anyhow, I am not sure what access to the blog will be like – hopefully it will be available to me and I’ll be updating as usual, but with the time difference and travel schedule, things might be a little hectic, so apologies in advance! I hope everyone is eating something yummy in the meantime, though :)

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I’ll be flying into Hong Kong, then going to China. Here’s a pic of HK from my previous visit a few years ago.

Happy Chinese New Year!

The Year of the Horse is upon us. May the new year bring prosperity, success, and of course, many delicious eats!

Wish I were still in Taiwan to celebrate CNY!

Wish I were still in Taiwan to celebrate CNY!

A Look Back at 2013

It’s almost 2014 in Taiwan already – just a couple of hours away! I’m really excited to be spending it here, but talking about San Diego makes me miss it a bit already, too. This past year has been full of yummy meals – S and I have settled on a few favorites, which I’ll recap here.

Where we eat for late-night dinners, or when we crave Taiwanese food/milk tea drinks:

Infini Tea

Iced Milk Drink with Pudding & Honey Boba ($3.85)
Infini Tea’s Iced Milk Drink with Pudding & Honey Boba

Infini Tea opened in the Spring and has quickly risen in popularity. Their most ordered item is the Iced Milk Drink – a copycat of LA’s Half & Half Tea House’s famous drink (post coming soon). It’s basically milk blended with ice to make a slushie, and sweetened with brown sugar syrup and served with typical milk tea toppings. We usually choose pudding and boba, or pudding and coffee jelly. I really enjoy this drink, and we also like most of the food items here, such as the Braised Pork or Five-Spice Beef.

Tea Garden

Tea Garden's Pork Chop over Rice

Tea Garden’s Pork Chop over Rice

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Tea Garden’s Black Tea Latte

Tea Garden has been our go-to place for a couple of years now, actually. This spring, they moved to a new location just a couple of blocks from the old place, and have expanded their food and drinks menu. Above are two popular items: the Fried Pork Chop over Rice, and the Tea Latte, which is my favorite drink. It’s basically sweetened tea with a layer of foamed cream on top, sprinkled with sea salt. It’s recommended that you drink it from the rim without a straw, and taste the tea “through” the foam. Tea Garden makes the best version of this tea drink, compared with others that I’ve had. 

Both Tea Garden and Infini Tea open until late – at least 12AM on weeknights – so we visit for late-night or post-badminton dinner quite often. They are both great places to grab quick, cheap meals.

Tajima Ramen House

Tajima's Spicy Miso Ramen

Tajima’s Spicy Miso Ramen

The ramen here isn’t the most authentic, but I like the spicy miso here because it isn’t too salty like spicy miso tends to be. I like the soft-boiled egg, and the kakuni pork belly that you can add to the ramen. It’s fatty and delicious.

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Happy Holidays!

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Christmas trees in 75°F San Diego

 

Merry Christmas, everyone! Hope you all have a joyous and delicious day!

2013 SD Food Bloggers’ Bake Sale!

The annual San Diego Food Bloggers’ Bake Sale is THIS SATURDAY, May 4, from 10-2pm at Great News in Pacific Beach!

All proceeds from the sale will go to No Kid Hungry, a great charity that is fighting child hunger in the U.S.

There are several bloggers doing advanced sales and raffles. Check them out here. Also, if you’d like to donate, you can do so directly here.

This is my first time participating in the sale (I did just move here a year go!), and I am super excited. I’ll be there for the morning shift with my Cookie Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies as well as a new recipe, M&M cookies. Stop by for some treats and say hello!